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5 Reasons Why Italy is Europe's BEST

By LAXMI NEGI
July 12, 2021 06:56 IST
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Italy

IMAGE: The Italians celebrate victory in the penalty shoot out. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images
 

Italy won the European Championship for the second time by beating England 3-2 on penalties on Sunday night at the Wembley Stadium. The match finished 1-1 after extra time.

While Italian soccer's redemption story is complete, England's painful wait for a major title goes on.

The Euro 2020 tournament marked an extraordinary turnaround for the Italians.

Laxmi Negi/Rediff.com lists 5 reasons why Italy is the best team in Europe:

Staying calm despite early setback

Lorenzo Insigne

IMAGE: Lorenzo Insigne shoots from a free kick. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Despite going down to the fastest goal scored in Euro history in front of a packed Wembley stadium, the Italians held their nerve and worked their way back gradually into the game.

Credit goes to their incredible spirit and positive mentality which eventually saw them dominate large swathes of the second half and orchestrate a remarkable turnaround.

Persistent attacking play

The early goal meant that Italy were always chasing the game and without the services of a traditional No 9, they found inspiration in the wide areas in the form of Federico Chiesa and Lorenzo Insigne.

England were forced back into their own half and had to defend deep, allowing Italy the freedom of the pitch and the opportunity to commit more men forwards.

In the end, Italy had a total of 20 attempts on goal, as compared to England's 6.

 

Defensive master class

Italy

IMAGE: Leonardo Bonucci celebrates his goal. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

England had been devastating in this Euro campaign from set-pieces with Harry Maguire, John Stones and Harry Kane being extremely effective in the air although at Wembley, it was the commanding performance of the experienced Giorgio Chellini and Leonardo Bonucci that really stood out. The pair were also fittingly involved in Italy's equaliser scored by the latter.

In one-on-one duels with genuine dribblers like Raheem Sterling, Kane, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish, the defensive duo came out on time every single time and kept the English at bay all through the 120+ minutes of play.

 

Jorginho dictates play, yet again

Jorginho

IMAGE: Jorginho celebrates with the Henri Delaunay Trophy following his team's victory. Photograph: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

England's decision to sit back and defend their early lead meant that inadvertently they allowed Jorginho to flourish in the central areas and dominate the midfield contest.

He was key to Italy's build-up play, kept finding spaces, remained composed under pressure and dictated the tempo of the game. Although he missed from the spot during the penalty shootout, he had a fantastic game and was exceptionally consistent throughout the tournament.

 

Donnarumma saves the Day!

Gianluigi Donnarumma

IMAGE: Gianluigi Donnarumma makes a save. Photograph: John Sibley - Pool/Getty Images

If there is one thing that Italian football is traditionally haunted by, it is the heart-breaking penalty shootout exits the national team has faced time and again in major tournaments.

This competition saw Italy survive two shoot-outs enroute to winning the championship and much of the credit goes to Gianluigi Donarrumma, who is already on the path to mirroring his legendary predecessor Gianluigi Buffon in goal.

With Italy trailing in the shoot-out following Andrea Belotti's miss, it was Donnarumma who stepped up when the team needed him the most -- guessing right to deny both Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka and sparing the blushes for Jorginho who had blown a glorious opportunities to win it all from the spot minutes earlier.

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